Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 377–384 | Cite as

2D:4D and Sexually Dimorphic Facial Characteristics

  • Robert P. BurrissEmail author
  • Anthony C. Little
  • Emma C. Nelson
Original Paper


The second-to-fourth-digit ratio (2D:4D) may be related to prenatal testosterone and estrogen levels and pubertal face growth. Several studies have recently provided evidence that 2D:4D is associated with other-rated facial masculinity and dominance, but not with facialmetric measures of masculinity. We found that localized face shape differences, shown here to be sexually dimorphic and related to ratings of dominance, were associated with direct and indirect measurements of 2D:4D. In this study we examined various localized features of the face, showing nose width, jaw angle, and lip height to be sexually dimorphic. We then had faces rated for dominance and saw that the most dimorphic characteristics were those most associated with rated dominance, with typically masculine characteristics tending to be associated with high ratings of dominance. Finally, 2D:4D measurements were made using three different techniques. High (feminine) values of 2D:4D were associated with feminine facial characteristics in women, but not in men. It was concluded that certain aspects of facial development are governed by factors that are established prenatally. These aspects may be associated with perceptions of the self by others that are important in the social environment, particularly in terms of intra-sexual competition and mate acquisition.


2D:4D Digit ratio Dominance Face Masculinity Sexually dimorphic 



The authors thank C. Hassell, R. Karadia, and A. D. Tufte for help with data collection, S. C. Roberts for allowing access to the facial photographs taken under condition set one, K. Kaskatis for advice on the sexual selection of musical ability, and D. I. Perrett and B. P. Tiddeman for the use of the Psychomorph program. We also thank three anonymous reviewers and B. Fink and J. T. Manning for their helpful comments. A. C. L. is supported by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert P. Burriss
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anthony C. Little
    • 1
    • 3
  • Emma C. Nelson
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of LiverpoolLiverpoolEngland
  2. 2.School of ArchaeologyClassics and Egyptology, The University of Liverpool, Hartley BuildingLiverpoolEngland
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyStirling UniversityStirlingScotland

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